Memorial stories

We think of Grateful Dogs Rescue as an extended family made up of our dedicated volunteers, our wonderful adopters, and of course our beloved canine companions. We celebrate together, and we mourn together. On this page we honor the lives of the dogs we have loved and lost.


Tino was adopted as a senior by Matt and his dog Greta. Matt writes:

“Valentino (Tino) came into our lives with an energy and love of life that was infectious. He was adorable, intrepid, playful, comforting, brave, and such a charmer. All of the kids in my life were obsessed with him, and Greta, well, she welcomed him as a best friend and warm blanket.

We only had two short years together, but he traveled all over California, from the mountains of Tahoe to the beaches of Venice. He got to fly across the country and explore upstate New York and summer in the Hamptons.”


” He was a steadfast copilot on a drive from San Francisco to New York, stopping at dog parks in Utah, Wyoming, Iowa, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and countless truck stops and highway motels in between.

Tino sat with me throughout Covid, keeping me company while I worked, becoming a favorite of clients and colleagues. It’s impossible to overstate how much he meant to me and Greta, and how deeply we love him and miss him. 

Thank you for bringing him into our lives. And for all the work you do changing dogs’ and people’s lives. ” 


From Manny’s forever family: 

We are beyond devastated as Manny was the bright light of our little family unit. When we first got Manny he was a bit reserved, but after some training he warmed up to us, and he soon became a joyful dog. He would spend many mornings sunbathing in the tanbark in the backyard, hunting for lizards (he never caught any), and evenings chasing Sunshine (our other dog) while barking his head off. He loved it!

Together we went on an epic road trip all over the US and Canada. Manny was a hit with everyone no matter where we stopped. People would take pictures of him, ask to pet him, ask to hold him (one lady spent an hour with him), and marvel at his strange body. He had the legs of a supermodel and he was often referred to as the Salvador Dali of dogs. He definitely enjoyed all the attention but he always acted cool and ready to strike pose. ” 

During the pandemic, we were lucky enough to be home with Manny when he became sick. We fought hard for him but in the end he had a tumor on his lower esophageal sphincter and developed a fast cancer in his small intestine and stomach. It was heartbreaking and a few weeks ago we knew it was time to say goodbye. 

We want to thank you for getting him out of the shelter and taking him back when other adoptions failed. Also, thank you for giving us a chance. Back then we were so worried that we wouldn’t be able to adopt another dog because Sunshine was very reactive. Manny ended up being the perfect fit for her and he really helped her to relax. (She misses him a lot and we now see just how much he kept her anxiety down.)

Manny was a gift. Pure joy. Beautiful. Loving. He is missed every day by all of us.”


We first met Penny in early 2010 (she was Tinkerbelle then). She was such a happy, friendly puppy. There was something wrong with her nose, but she didn’t care. After she was in foster, we had it checked out, and the consensus was that her nose worked the way it was and doing anything to it could create a problem. Penny was adopted by her foster family.

A couple of years ago Penny became a big foster sister to an injured chihuahua that was missing a foot. Penny was a natural nurse and helped little Zoe through her leg amputation, and showed her how fun it was to be a well-cared-for, much-loved dog.

Zoe was also adopted by her foster family. Zoe tried to teach Penny that it was fun to let their mom dress them up in outfits, but Penny never believed that. Penny and Zoe had become best friends and were always together.

We are so sorry to say goodbye to Penny, but so happy that she had a wonderful life


From Stripe’s Forever Family:

“Just a note of gratitude. We adopted “Stripe” a male border collie mix from you on September 13 2009. He had a beautiful life with us and watched our grandkids all grow up. He left us on January 2, 2021, due to an untreatable heart tumor. We are devastated but grateful for all the love he gave us. We will never forget him. Thank you so much.”

Top: Harvey. Bottom: Harvey together with Otto. 


From Harvey’s Dad:

“I wanted to let you know that our rescue Harvey recently passed, at what we think was around 15. You may recall that he was originally fostered at Citidogs, where he became attached to one of our other dogs, Otto, who went to daycare there every day. Once we began fostering Harvey at home it was obvious they were inseparable soulmates, at which time he became a permanent member of our family. 

Otto passed about a year prior. During his final 6 months his back legs were inoperable, and Harvey rarely left his side. We would find them together with Harvey licking Otto’s head or his back, or nuzzling his snout alongside Otto’s. 

Over quite literally decades of fostering and rescuing dogs, I have never seen the kind of deep love and intimate affection that the two of them shared for one another. 

Thank you for initially looking out for Harvey. Despite having a mangled face, broken bones that had healed poorly, and terrible arthritis, he was so sweet, and he clearly added much to Otto’s life in addition to ours. 

Keep up the great work!”


From Pip’s Mom:

This is in memory of Pip, our Grateful Dogs rescue for over 15 years. He met all of our Great Expectations, and was the Energizer Bunny of Dogs, but even the strongest batteries wear out. We loved every minute we had with him, and will miss him forever. Thank you for all you do.

Top photo is of Pip in his prime, below is as he was these past two years: one-eyed, three-legged, and as wonderful as ever. “



From his Forever family: 

“Our lab Bruno, whom we adopted in 2009 through GDR, passed away this week. He had a great life and enriched ours immeasurably.”


Sweet Summer came to GDR as an energetic and intelligent little pup. She gave her forever family almost 12 years of her enthusiasm and love. From her Dad: 

“We miss her, and will miss her. She was a marvellously sweet girl. What will we do without her?”


From Katie: “Fred officiating (or so he thought) our wedding in 2011.”


It’s been over a decade since Fred won the hearts of Katie and David and found his forever home. Fred lived a happy life, experiencing both the cold winters of Pittsburgh, PA, and the hot summers of Tucson, AZ.

From his mom Katie:
Fred has gone on to his next adventure. He will be missed so very, very much, but these last two months of working from home and not going anywhere at all gave me 24 hours a day to love him and he definitely knew it.

Thanks again for bringing the little guy into our lives. We had an amazing 10+ years together.

Vinnie's legacy

From Maria, Vinnie’s Mum, August 2019:

You have probably heard the quote “Rescuing one dog won’t change the world, but the world will change for one dog!”. But is this really true? Let me tell you the story of Vinnie and then you can decide.


Let’s start at the end to get the sad part over. Vinnie died this summer just short of his 16th birthday. He was in my life for over 14 years. At the time I met him, my little Chihuahua mix had just died of cancer and my border collie, Decca, needed a new companion, so I could not take as long to mourn as I might have liked. Someone in my vet’s office mentioned a poodle mix that Grateful Dogs Rescue was having trouble placing but thought he might be a good fit for me.

Vinnie had attracted the most applications GDR had ever received at the time for a dog. He was that cute! But had been adopted and returned 3 times (food protective, not hypo-allergenic, bonded to one person more than the other), but none of those issues were a problem for Decca and me. So, I took him home and changed his name to Vinnie. His original name was too cute for such a little tough guy. I decided he was the Joe Pesci of cockapoos and chose the name Vinnie. He was about a year and a half old at that time and he and Decca became best friends.

Almost 2 years after adopting Vinnie, I helped trap an abandoned dog in McLaren Park. I asked Grateful Dogs if they would take this dog if I fostered, and he became my first foster dog. I thought this was going to be a one-off thing and didn’t plan to continue to foster. But, 4 months later I was asked if I would consider fostering another dog, and then one thing lead to another and I have now fostered over 50 dogs. Vinnie, being who he was, gave most of these foster dogs a hard time while Decca, and then Shayna, gave them a nurturing environment to get ready for their forever homes.

In the 12 years since my second foster dog, I have case managed dogs, screened dogs at the shelter, screened foster applications, done website updates, answered the emails, and so many other tasks, and despite at first refusing offers to join the board, I now find myself as board president.

So, let’s circle back to the beginning of the story. Is it true by rescuing Vinnie, the world was changed for only one dog? Well, it was definitely changed for me. The world was also changed for all of the other foster dogs and the people who adopted them. And so on and so on, one step at a time, the world will continue to change and Vinnie’s legacy and memory will live on.


Barry was 12 when he came into rescue, and was fostered by Michelle. She loved Barry so much, her husband arranged for Barry to become Michelle’s as a Christmas present in 2016. In Michelle’s own words:

We were so lucky to get to love this toothless spunky old man for the last few years of his life. Just wish we had met sooner. Rest easy sweet boy , mommy loves you.


We received these lovely words and photos from Mike and Maya, who adopted Raven from GDR almost 12 years ago:

Thank you for saving Raven in the summer of 2006. We adopted him that fall. It is impossible to describe how much he meant to our family, and how much he enriched our lives. Raven was pure love and joy, and sometimes magic. He was a living angel who kept us safe and ever-present.

Raven passed away last fall. He lived well into his twelfth year. We will miss his strength and light. We gave him a wonderful life, and he made our lives wonderful.

This sweet boy was so fearful when you rescued him, downright aggressive, no one could take him, SPCA had deemed him unadoptable. Were it not for your patience and kindness as he sat in San Francisco Animal Control he would have been euthanized. 

Animal control was also truly instrumental in saving him, they called you because they recognized his potential. You put the time into him because you are amazing! I still have the records from Animal Control that documented your visits and your patience with him until he would come to you and you found him a foster – Kathleen Bolton. She loved him so much. Kathleen’s big heart brought him to us and I will not forget her for that! Thank you all!! We had a beautiful, joyous life together. He loved the mountains, the beach, the desert, creeks, lakes- really an amazing life was had thanks to your work! 

We are eternally grateful.


Pi was rescued by Grateful Dogs Rescue about a year ago. He was very old…our guess 15 years or more. He had lived with his owner all his life, but when his owner had to move into a hospice, Pi couldn’t follow. GDR took him in.


Pi had two amazing foster homes in the year he was with us. When he came to GDR, he had very bad teeth and terrible skin issues. We made sure to address his medical issues, and he was showered with lots of love, treats and adventures.  


On October 16th 2018, Pi crossed the rainbow bridge. We loved him VERY much, and are so proud of everyone that made Pi’s last year on earth, a great year!


From Riley’s forever family:
Dear Grateful Dogs Rescue,
We are forever grateful for the good fortune and incredible blessing to have become dog parents to Riley. When we first met him in Belmont, then San Bruno to decide if we could adopt him, who knew how our lives would change and the incredible adventures we would have together as a family. 

Thank you. He was the best. 

With gratitude and sorrow, the Machacz Family


From Bix’s forever family: 
In memory of our “little man” Bix who we adopted from Grateful Dogs Rescue in 2011. He passed on Sept. 13, 2018.
He gave us such joy and provided companionship to our other dog, Wes.
We appreciate all the hard work you do to provide the opportunity to dogs who may not have another chance at a forever home.
Rita and Sam


Maggie was rescued from SFACC.  Below are some lovely photos and a note from her forever family who gave her a wonderful life:


 On March 31, 2006, my husband and I adopted our beautiful dog from you. Her name was Lady and she was about 12 months old. We changed her name to Maggie. She was an amazing and elegant creature and often stopped people in their tracks. Everywhere Maggie went people wanted to know what kind of dog she was and to pet her. She had the sweetest smile and grandest spirit. However, it took Maggie many years and love to help her to feel safe and to enjoy all the love that people wanted to give her.


Maggie came when called and could be walked off leash. She never ate off our coffee table nor did her business in the house.  Anyone who knew her knows that what I am relaying to you here in these words cannot possibly express who Maggie was or who she was to us and to all that knew her.



Maggie came when called and could be walked off leash. She never ate off our coffee table nor did her business in the house.  Anyone who knew her knows that what I am relaying to you here in these words cannot possibly express who Maggie was or who she was to us and to all that knew her.


Maggie left us on September 20, 2018. She had a stroke and after she stopped eating, we had her put to sleep. For the two days before we brought our vet to our house to do this, many friends and neighbors came to visit with her and with us. We miss her so terribly much and I cry for her all the time. It was such an honor to share her life with her. She gave us so much love and laughter. I always felt proud walking down the street or on a trail with her.

I want to thank you for saving her.  – Maura


Most of us met Angel for the first time at this adoption event in 2009 when she was our official greeter! Not surprisingly, Angel, as beautiful inside as out, was adopted almost immediately. Sadly we learned that Angel passed earlier this month after living a wonderful, active, loved life with her adopter Anne:



She was an amazing, loving dog. She had a heart of gold and an uncanny sense if someone was upset or just having a bad day. She would pull me across the street to greet passersby or people getting out of their cars and wanted them to pet her so she could take it all away. Thank you so much for rescuing her Grateful Dogs Rescue!!!


Franny was rescued with her sister from ACC in July 2003 and finally found her forever home at Thanksgiving 2004. The following was written by her mom last year on the anniversary of Franny’s adoption.


When I think about the past nine years of my life with Franny, I am so glad that Grateful Dogs rescued her.

“Rescue” is not an exaggeration in Franny’s case: she was slated to be euthanized at San Francisco Animal Care and Control, for “behavior” issues. Her crime: she was very shy and scared, and not even remotely outgoing. The opposite of what people look for in a dog, I suppose.

But when I saw Franny’s picture on the Grateful Dogs site in 2004, I felt an immediate connection — it felt like fate. 

Not so much on Franny’s end, however. The first time I met her, she hid behind a fallen tree and watched me warily, emerging only when I brought out some sliced (extremely fancy and expensive) chicken apple sausage. But a few days later, when she came home with me, she hopped into my bed and lay her head on my leg.


Nine years later, I can’t imagine what my life would have been like without her. Watching her blossom from a dog who was so frightened that people thought it would be a kindness to end her life to a rambunctious, silly, sassy girl who just wants to play and cuddle as been one of the greatest joys I’ve ever experienced. If Grateful Dogs hadn’t believed in her, Franny and I never would have found each other! I will always be thankful to them for taking a chance on this scared little dog and saving the life of my best friend.


Tara was one of almost 150 dogs rescued from the Nevada desert in the middle of winter after their caretaker died. We took Tara and her friend Arnie into GDR knowing that these dogs were painfully unsocialized, as most had never lived inside or with people, and would require a lot of work and patience. We received the following note from Donna, who fostered and then adopted Tara.

I don’t know if you remember me, but you graciously agreed to sponsor my fostering and adoption of Tara in 2008 — one of the 144 dogs from Gabbs, Nevada. Well, very sadly, Tara was diagnosed with Degenerative Myelopathy in July 2013 … and after a year of steady deterioration, she reached her limit on Tuesday 11/11/14. When I saw her Tuesday morning, I knew it was her time. 

We had almost 7 beautiful years together, thanks to you!! She was the greatest gift I could have ever had. I miss her every day but I know for sure that it was the right decision for Tara.


Just wanted to thank you, again, for all your help and for taking such a chance on us. It was a beautiful match  :-). I’ve attached a fairly recent picture of my girl — as you can see, she is still fearful and never likes the camera!